Trucking and Covid-19 — Questions & Answers

TORONTO, Ont. — As Today’s Trucking continues its coverage of Covid-19 and the impact on trucking, this page will be updated with links to related resources and news.

1. What’s happening to freight volumes?

Canadian trucking operations have no way of knowing how Covid-19 will affect their businesses in the long term, but there has been a surge in freight volumes in recent days.

“We are seeing the health care, home essentials, food goods, and cleaning supplies sectors all pick up,” said Derek Koza, president and CEO of Wellington Group of Companies. It delivered 28 loads of toilet paper to one U.S. region in a single week, amid panic buying for the supplies. “During this time of pandemic, the trucking industry is stepping up in a large way to support demand,” he said.

“The obvious high-consumption commodities have spiked, which has bene offsetting non-essential items,” said Jared Martin, managing director of Speedy Transport. “Overall, our volume levels have been sustained, but we’re anticipating a large dip in the retail segment this week.”[1]

2. What can truck drivers expect when crossing the border?

The Canada-U.S. border has been tightened in the fight against the Covid-19 virus, but remains open for the business of trucking between the two countries.

Those that show no signs of Covid-19 are not required to self-isolate themselves for 14 days just because they crossed the border. “We’ve had zero reports – zero reports – of drivers with symptoms of Covid-19,” stresses Stephen Laskowski, president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. “It’s important for the supply chain in Canada and the U.S. to recognize that our driver community is healthy.” But border officers are now asking drivers specific questions about whether anyone has been exposed to the virus.

And U.S.-bound truck drivers that have returned from a known international “hot spot” for the virus in the preceding 14 days will be denied entry.[2]

3. What’s happening to scheduled trucking industry events?

Several trucking-related trade shows, conferences and events have been canceled or postponed as crowd sizes are limited in the name of public health.

Truck World, Newcom Media’s national trade show serving Canada’s trucking industry, has been rescheduled to June 4-6. A corresponding TruckTech fleet maintenance summit has been shifted to Friday, June 5. Both events had been scheduled for mid-April.

The Alberta Motor Transport Association and Manitoba Trucking Association have both postponed their annual general meetings, but new dates have yet to be set. Events canceled south of the border include the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), which had been scheduled for March 26-28 in Louisville, Ky. Trucking HR Canada’s Women with Drive conference went on as scheduled in Toronto — complete with bottles of hand sanitizer on every table — but a reception that was planned for the end of the day was canceled, with organizers also citing Covid-19 concerns.


Is there any regulatory relief for those hauling emergency supplies?

The U.S. has issued a national emergency declaration to provide hours-of-service (HOS) relief to interstate truck drivers moving emergency supplies in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. It’s the first time the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued such nationwide relief. But there are limits.

The eased rules apply only to full loads of specifically identified relief supplies. Routine or mixed loads are not included. Once a driver completes an emergency delivery, they must take 10 hours off duty if transporting property, and eight hours off duty if transporting passengers.[3]

5. What can workplaces do to help keep people safe?

The business of trucking continues, even as other workplaces are temporarily shutting down. Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, says some of his members are providing drivers with hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, along with information on hygiene.

And they’re limiting contact with other people as much as possible. “They are also providing information on symptoms and what to do if they have any of them.” Wellington Group of Companies has urged employees to avoid external meetings, and is resorting to conference calls only with vendors, suppliers and customers for 30 days.

One employee was asked to work from home for 14 days after returning from an international trip. For its part, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety recommends establishing an infection control plan that can include: *Providing clean hand washing facilities

*Offering alcohol-based hand sanitizers when regular facilities are not available, or to people on the road *Cleaning objects that are touched frequently, such as doorknobs, handles, railings, kettles, etc. more often with regular disinfectants or soap and water * Providing boxes of tissues and encouraging their use

*  Reminding staff to not share cups, glasses, dishes and cutlery. Be sure dishes are washed in soap and water after use. * Removing magazines and papers from waiting areas or common rooms. (Digital editions of Today’s Trucking can be found at[4].)

* Making sure ventilation systems are working properly. * Cleaning a person’s workstation or other areas where they have been if a person has been suspected or identified with an infection * Using social distancing techniques, such as using telephone, video conferencing, or the internet to conduct as much business as possible (including within the same building), allow employees to work from home, or to work flexible hours to avoid peak public transportation times or crowding in the workplace.

For more information on the coronavirus/Covid-19 itself, visit[5].

6. Are flexible hours even possible in the trucking industry?

The freight has to move when the freight has to move. But some trucking industry workplaces have already introduced flexible hours that could also be used to support the “social distancing” that will help in the fight against Covid-19.

“Transportation has a stigma that, ‘You’re a dispatcher, you have to work in the office. You’re a planner, you have to work in the office.’ That’s not the case,” Challenger Motor Freight HR manager Randi Butcher said, during a presentation at Trucking HR Canada’s Women with Drive conference. The focus is on ensuring work is completed.

One for Freight operations teams have also proven they can successfully dispatch equipment from afar, said Stephanie Carruth, who supports research and development at the fleet.[6]


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